OTTAWA – On Monday, the government finally introduced legislation on abandoned vessels, an issue the NDP has raised over 80 times since the Liberals were elected. The announcement comes weeks ahead of scheduled debate on an NDP bill which would force the government to implement a comprehensive solution to clean up thousands of abandoned vessels polluting Canada's coasts.

“Coastal communities have been sounding the alarm for decades over the risks abandoned vessels pose to the environment, local fishing and tourism jobs. The NDP is encouraged with today's news that the government has finally bowed to the pressure of coastal communities and will introduce legislation," said Sheila Malcolmson, NDP MP for Nanaimo—Ladysmith. "Although with the Liberals, it's often style over substance. We will review the legislation and ensure it lives up to expectations of coastal communities and that it offers real solutions."

Last week, another vessel sank and leaked fuel in Ladysmith Harbour when Transport Canada knew of the vessel’s risk, but failed to take any action before the sinking and resulting oil spill. The NDP has long called for a coast-wide strategy that would deal with abandoned vessels before they become a major source of oil spills, pollution and marine debris.

“We welcome the announcement that legislation was tabled to manage abandoned vessels that pose a risk to the environment,” said Anne Minh-Thu Quach, NDP MP for Salaberry–Suroît. “We expect the Transport Minister to present strong measures to reinforce the polluter-pays principle in order to ensure that no community suffers the way the residents of Beauharnois have suffered. The Kathryn Spirit cost taxpayers almost 24 million dollars."

Malcolmson has tabled legislation to create a national strategy to address abandoned vessels which is scheduled to be debated in Parliament the first week of December. Bill C-352 will fix vessel registration, pilot a vessel turn-in program, create good green jobs by supporting local marine salvage businesses and vessel recycling, and end jurisdictional disputes by making the Coast Guard responsible for directing the removal of abandoned vessels.

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